The ‘top’ universities are set to issue a warning to potential undergraduates: don’t study “Media Studies, Art and Design, Photography” if you want to get a place at the likes of Oxford and Cambridge. You might get away with just one of those, but no more. Well, I’m pretty sure that most potential entrants already knew that, and their teachers have guessed as much for years now. But I guess it’s useful to have these tacit prejudices spelled out in black and white.

More worrying perhaps is that the arts are already being rooted out at GCSE level, by “scores” of schools, as a response to the needs of the English Baccalaureate (“eBac”)…

“Scores of secondary schools have made a snap decision to narrow pupils’ choice of arts subjects for this September […] sidelined art, music, design and technology and religious education in many schools”

Or so says The Guardian (edited by Grima Wormtongue these days, or so it seems). The words “scores” and “many” don’t exactly make it sound like thundering hordes of headteachers are running away from teaching Art & Design subjects. The root of the report appears to be a trades-union “survey” of just 100 of its members. That hardly sounds like a reliable sample, especially when the exact figures it apparently gave rise to are not given. But it’s still a worrying trend. Let’s hope it’s not the start of a wholesale downgrading of art and design at the higher end of secondary school, triggered by the English Bac. Yet the English Bac does mean that the in-depth study of history is finally back on the ‘serious subjects’ menu for state schools, and this may have knock-on effects — perhaps a slight up-tick in demand for Art History / Museum Studies at university level during the next decade?

The government is also expanding the apprenticeships scheme. The scheme is apparently to be limited to apprenticeships that have a serious chance of a real job at the end of them, and the… “majority of this additional support is for new adult ‘over 19-year-old’ starts”. Let’s hope there’s a big creative industries take-up for these new apprenticeships. There are also, potentially, new accreditations set to come alongside the apprenticeships…

“The skills minister John Hayes last month spoke of plans to revive the apprenticeship system by asking sector skills councils to assume a similar function to the medieval “guilds” in designing and accrediting new professional qualifications and bestowing greater prestige on those who achieve high levels of technical aptitude.”

Sounds good. But let’s hope that employers can also factor in some remedial skills work, given that 84% of our school kids can’t even get five C grades in academic subjects before they leave school.